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Portia Woodman-Wickliffe keeps fans guessing about post-Olympics plans

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Black Ferns Sevens legend Portia Woodman-Wickliffe will retire from international rugby after the upcoming Paris Olympics, but what the New Zealander does after the Games is a question that remains unanswered.

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Woodman-Wickliffe is unanimously considered one of the greatest players in the history of women’s rugby. With try-scoring records in 15s and sevens, an Olympic gold and two Rugby World Cup titles, it’s hard to argue with the Kiwi’s stacked CV.

New Zealand’s bulldozing winger was crowned the Sevens Player of the Year in 2015, received the Sevens Player of the Decade honour in 2020, and was twice named the 15s Player of the Year by World Rugby in 2017 and 2020.

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But in a bombshell announcement by New Zealand Rugby on Tuesday morning, it was revealed that Woodman-Wickliffe would wear the black jersey one last time at Stade de France later this month. One of the sport’s greatest careers is almost at an end.

“I’m so happy to walk away right now that I don’t see it as I need to stay around, or I’m not fighting to find something else that I need to achieve, I’ve achieved as much as I can and I want to see what else is out there,” Woodman-Wickliffe said, as reported by stuff.

“Rugby has been a dream come true.”

Teammate Sarah Hirini was almost brought to tears in an interview with RugbyPass on Tuesday morning when asked about the legacy Woodman-Wickliffe will lead behind. The fellow Tokyo Olympic gold medallist described Woodman-Wickliffe as an “absolute legend.”

Newstalk ZB’s Nathan Limm reported on Twitter/X that Woodman-Wickliffe will stay on as a professional athlete but suggested that a move to the New Zealand Warriors in the soon-to-be-expanded NRLW competition is on the cards.

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Sevens teammates Stacey Waaka and Tyla King have already signed on with the Brisbane Broncos and St. George Illawarra Dragons respectively in 2025 and it stay remains to be seen as to whether the retiring rugby great will join them.

“There’s a lot of opportunities out there and it’s something you can’t hide from, you can’t deny it,” Woodman-Wickliffe commented.

“Ultimately I just want to fit as many as I can in before this peak performance runs out.

“My whanau aren’t really league players,” she explained when asked about NRLW.

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“I asked Dad if I could play league at primary school and he said, ‘No, we don’t do league in our family, we only play rugby’ so right from then it was never really an option.

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“But now I guess coming to the end of my rugby career, still in a fit and fighting condition, where that leads, who knows? I’m really looking forward to whatever comes next.

“I’m playing club, I’m going to play NPC, who knows… maybe Super Rugby as well but just the pressures of international rugby, the black jersey all of that stuff that comes with that, I’m grateful to have a break from that,” she added.

Woodman-Wickliffe has been picked in New Zealand’s women’s rugby sevens squad for the Paris Games. The 32-year-old joins the likes of Jorja Miller, Michaela Blyde and Jazmin Felix-Hotham in the group.

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Tom 47 minutes ago
All Blacks snatch another tight victory from England at Eden Park

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